First stop for today was Jogyesa Temple, as I read that they were having a Chrysanthemum Festival. It seems like the month of November was Korea’s Chrysanthemum Festival. I first encountered it in Jeju, Hallim Park. Anyway, a Chrysanthemum Festival in a temple compound proved to be another experience. I thought the flowers complemented the temple architecture really well. To get to the temple, go to Anguk station, and take exit 6. Follow the main road all the way straight to a T junction. You will see a Tourist Information Booth for Insadong. Turn left into the side street, Insadong-gil. Walk along Insadong, until you see a side street (Insadong-11gil) going off on your right-hand side. Follow it, and you will see the main Insadong Tourist Center. Continue straight, following Insadong-11gil, till you hit the main road. Cross it, and Jogyesa Temple should be in plain sight. Jogyesa Temple provided an escape from the busy streets of Insadong, especially during the night.
After Jogyesa, I made my way back to Anguk station, and took exit 3, to go to Changdeokgung Palace (Unesco World Heritage Site). For this Palace, there were two types of admission tickets. Make you get the Secret Garden Tour, or Huwon Tour, which costed 8000 won per adult. Visiting Changdeokgung, without the Secret Garden Tour, would be a total waste. In my opinion, the Secret Garden was what made my visit worthwhile. The Secret Garden area was a restricted area, and you could only enter it, as part of the tour. English tours for the Secret Garden were available at 1100hr and 1530hr. It was advisable to call +82-2-762-8261 for reservations. I didn’t though, but arrived at 1000hr. Changdeokgung was the second royal villa built, after Gyeongbukgung. Palace structures were definitely less than Gyeongbukgung, but with the Secret Garden, I feel the palace compound was almost as big. The Secret Garden was also called Biwon. It’s architecture philosophy was to be in harmony with nature. As such, much of the natural landscape was preserved with only a few ponds and pavilions scattered around. I realised I took more photos of the garden then the palace structures. A tip when exploring the Secret Garden: You can break away from the group, either go faster than the guide, or let the tour group go ahead. After the first stop, I decided to let the tour group go ahead, while I enjoyed the scenery, and slowly took pictures.
Walk back to Anguk Station, and take exit 2, follow the main road all the way down, and you will hit the Tourist Information Counter of Bukchon Hanok Village. This was an area where the Hanok houses of the Joseon Dynasty were preserved in downtown Seoul. As most of the houses had been converted to cultural centers, guesthouses and restaurants, the environment was rather peaceful and quiet, with few people in a lazy afternoon. It was a nice place to take a stroll and have lunch and drink tea.
|South Korea Day 8, Seoul||South Korea, Nami Island|